Apart from Vigan’s signature royal bibingkas, allow me to share with you the various flavors that I have indulged myself with in Ilocos Norte. 😍
Price: PHP 94 (with unlimited rice)
Serving size: Good for 1
Ate it at: Cromwell’s Grill/Chicken Ati-Atihan, General Segundo Avenue, Laoag
For dinner, the driver from Parklane Hotel recommended that we try the Chicken Ati-Atihan, a grill place just along the same highway as the hotel. The restaurant even promises that they have “perfected” the chicken barbecue, and that it could even make us dance (Sasayaw ka sa sarap!).
And when I got to taste the barbecue, I didn’t dance of course (I don’t know how anyway 😅), but I have to admit that their chicken barbecue is one of the best and most affordable that I ever had! ✔💯
The chicken is tender and perfectly cooked, and has been marinated and basted so well that there’s no need for a dipping soy sauce. The portion is also big enough for one to call out for extra rice, which makes it really sulit for PHP 94. 👌
We also had their Fish Sinigang, which had the right amount of acidity and was served piping hot in a clay pot. 🍵
Dinuguan and Ilocandia Sampler Pizza
Price: PHP 450
Serving size: Good for 2-3
Ate it at: Café Herencia, McArthur Street, Paoay
My friend Ahra went to Ilocos a few years ago, and she raved about the Dinuguan Pizza that she had in a restaurant across Paoay Church. A quick look around the area led us to Café Herencia. The pretty interiors, Wi-Fi access and air-conditioning somehow gave me an idea that the visit would be quite a splurge. But hey, that’s the point of a travel, right? 😀
I wanted to try another flavor apart from the Dinuguan Pizza, and it was a good thing that they have the Sampler Pizza, a pizza split into two variants. So we ordered the Dinuguan and Ilocandia, where the latter is basically made of Ilocano longganisa.
I’m not a big fan of the pork blood stew, but I really enjoyed it on this thin crust pizza! The blood wasn’t overwhelming at all, and went well with the cheese, pepper, and pork bits. On the other hand, the Ilocandia in its simplicity put forth the richness of the local sausage, which was balanced out by the tangy red onion rings.
Tip: They’re open as early as 9am, so be there before it’s packed with tourists hungry for lunch. 😊
Dragonfruit Ice Cream
Price: PHP 20
Serving size: Good for 1
Bought it from: A street vendor just outside Marcos Museum (Marcos Avenue, Batac)
After exploring the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center (popularly known Marcos Museum), Mama and I took a refreshing break with an organic dragonfruit ice cream from one of the vendors outside the museum. 🍦
It was light, and a bit smoother than the usual neighborhood “dirty” ice cream. A bit more expensive too, probably because it is organic, had a fancier cone, dragonfruit is exotic, and the sorbetes cart is just outside a tourist attraction. But no regrets here, because it’s a must-try, and Manong Sorbetero is very nice and has a wealth of tourist info!
Grilled Dorado and Squid
Price: PHP 100 each
Serving size: Good for 2
Ate it at: Jovy and Yolly’s Place, Davila, Pasuquin
On our way to the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, we stopped over at a roadside eatery for lunch. Mama didn’t want any bagnet (fried crispy pork belly), empanada (fried pork pastry), or any other dish with red meat, so she was relieved to find that Jovy and Yolly’s Place served grilled seafood. Right off the bat, we ordered Grilled Dorado (mahi-mahi or dolphinfish) and Squid.
For the size and thickness of the portion, the 100-peso Grilled Dorado is a steal. The same goes for the squid, because in restaurants, the fish steak would usually fetch at PHP 300-400, and the squid would be priced at around PHP 200-300.
I was still full then because of the pizza and ice cream, so I wasn’t able to finish all of my rice. If I was really hungry, for sure, I would have asked for extra rice. 🍚
Ate it at: Java Hotel, General Segundo Avenue, Laoag
I didn’t want to leave Ilocos without longganisa for a morning meal, so I ordered that for our complimentary breakfast in Java Hotel.
The rich, slightly garlicky sausage went well with the local cane vinegar. In quartet with fried garlic rice, fluffy scrambled egg, and tangy atsara (pickled papaya), the breakfast was a harmonious symphony. 🎶
I would like to come back someday, but for now, I will relish in the memories and flavors of the North.
Disclaimer: I paid for my own food (and accommodation, in the case of the complimentary longganisa breakfast), and this was written with my honest opinion. If I don’t like the food, I won’t write it here. 😊